As a writer and business consultant, I’m obsessive and protective of my time. Like you, I have 24 hours in one day and want to maximize every minute.
Time is a luxury.
Most people consider social media sites like Facebook and Twitter their biggest time suckers. I use RescueTime to track where I spend my time (and Toggl to track my time) and while I kind of knew this to be true, it’s striking how many HOURS a week I spend on email.
I’m not the only one to be drowning in email and feeling guilty that I’m not responding to people quickly enough. Even worse is feeling like I’m going to miss an important email through all the junk I have to wade through hourly, let alone daily. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com, felt the same email stress and came up with a brilliant idea called Yesterbox.
YESTERBOX ~ YES!
You can read the details of how Yesterbox works here but the premise is this:
1) Your “to do” list is yesterday’s inbox. By going through all of yesterday’s emails today, you’re not only responding to everyone who needs a response, but you’re not distracted TODAY with emails coming in, allowing you the freedom to focus at the task at hand.
2) For emails that require a longer response time, you file them into an email folder and schedule a time on your calendar to respond to them.
3) To get through older emails, schedule a time on your calendar and wade through them. Quickly you’ll realize many of them can now be deleted anyway since they’re not timely, relevant, or important.
Bonus tip: Through Tony’s post on Yesterbox, I learned about Pocket. Pocket is an app that saves anything with a web address to “read later”.
I’ve been testing the Yesterbox method this month and it’s been working for me. I’ve still not hit the elusive ZERO in-box but I’m slowly whittling away the emails and cleaning up house. More importantly, I’m feeling more in control of my in-box, which is making me happy. As of this morning, I have 3,104 left to delete, file or respond (obviously this doesn’t include any emails coming in). The biggest challenge for me is resisting the urge to respond to emails as they arrive. I’ve begun informing my clients that I’ll be checking email three times a day (9:00 a.m., noon and 2:00 p.m.) so they can expect a response from me around that time. Or, if it’s urgent, they can text or gchat (which they’ve done and I’m fine with it).
My goal by the end of May is to get to ZERO. Can I do it? I guess we’ll find out come May 31! I’ll have to report in my June e-mail newsletter/blog post.
Last month you may recall that I promised to share some great podcasts I’ve either been listening or have been recommended. My call for recommendations resulting in an impressive (and LONG) list so I’ve been going through them. I’ll share my list next month because I’m only half-way through everyone’s recommendations and I want to share a complete list with you.
As many of you know, I’m working on a book proposal for a memoir on my family’s life as refugees through a program called The Fifth Semester. The process has been going well and I’m so grateful to my mentor/professor Erin Celello who’s been my cheerleader along the process and encouraging me to dig deeper.
My goal was to have a complete book proposal before our program participants meet next week in New York City and while it’s really close, it’s not quite there yet. I’d rather continue to work on it and get it right than rush it to be done. I can’t wait to meet up with my fellow writers to get their feedback on the proposal, too. I’d like to be shopping it out to book agents by summer.
Finally, every month I’ll be giving away a book to one of my email subscribers. April’s winner of V is for Vegan by Kerstin Rodgers was Kj! Know of someone who’d like to subscribe to this monthly newsletter ~ forward this email or have your friend click here.